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Old 14-01-2015, 20:12   #1
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Pressure cooker vs. Thermal Cooker vs. Wonderbag

I grew up using a pressure cooker, but have read many posts extolling the virtues of thermal cookers and Wonderbags. What are the relative benefits vs. drawbacks of each?

Thanks!
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Old 14-01-2015, 21:16   #2
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Re: Pressure cooker vs. Thermal Cooker vs. Wonderbag

Hi, welcome to CF .

There was a long thread a few months ago regarding this. It included discussion about the Wonderbag and Thermos slow cooking:
Pressure or Slow Cooker, What's Best for Cooking Onboard

One of my comments there:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seaworthy Lass View Post
Pressure cookers can easily be turned into slow cookers without the need for ongoing power. They just need to be brought to pressure then well insulated. See Sparrowhawk's DIU idea or the commercially available Wonderbag. Or just wrap the pot in a couple of blankets. This system works brilliantly!

Also consider getting a wide mouthed thermos for cooking. There are several things you can successfully make simply by tossing in the dry ingredients and adding a boiling water eg oatmeal, quinoa, barley. People have had success with rice, but that has defeated me. Apparently pasta works as well.
We have been enjoying porridge every few days since I started using this technique. Zero fuss, little gas used and minimal washing up required .

Edited to add:
This was the thermos thread discussing other means of slow cooking:
Thermos Cooking
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Old 14-01-2015, 21:32   #3
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Re: Pressure cooker vs. Thermal Cooker vs. Wonderbag

Oops, just read your Meets & Greets thread and realised you have been here a while posting under your husband's user name.

Welcome anyway .

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Old 14-01-2015, 21:48   #4
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Re: Pressure cooker vs. Thermal Cooker vs. Wonderbag

I've used both a pressure cooker and a thermos cooker. I have no experience with a Wonder Bag.
I have started a web page on my use of thermos cooker here: Thermos Cooker

I think the thermos cooker is a neat cooking tool, but the pressure cooker is much for versatile and efficient. I'm not familiar with the Wonder Bag. I would Google it, but I really don't need another cooking tool on board.

John
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Old 15-01-2015, 08:07   #5
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Re: Pressure cooker vs. Thermal Cooker vs. Wonderbag

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Originally Posted by jstevens View Post
I've used both a pressure cooker and a thermos cooker. I have no experience with a Wonder Bag.
I have started a web page on my use of thermos cooker here: Thermos Cooker

I think the thermos cooker is a neat cooking tool, but the pressure cooker is much for versatile and efficient. I'm not familiar with the Wonder Bag. I would Google it, but I really don't need another cooking tool on board.

John
Thanks for that link. The pros and cons were just what I was looking for.

The Wonder Bag looks like a light-weight alternative to a thermal cooker. Does anybody have experience using both of them and can offer comparisons?

So, John, what are the benefits (if any) of the thermal cooker over a pressure cooker, since you have used both of them?

Thanks!
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Old 15-01-2015, 08:37   #6
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Re: Pressure cooker vs. Thermal Cooker vs. Wonderbag

Thermal cooker (aka a solar concentrator) can be used to cook a delicious slow cooked roast in theory but in practice I wouldn't bother.

A pressure cooker and propane can't be beat. One 5 gal propane tank lasts us 3 - 4 months and we cook and bake daily.

We use a Fissler low height pressure cooker. It fits in the under stove pan locker and is also our main non pressure cooking pot with the glass lid. The Fissler also has the dimpled base which stops food sticking.

You couldn't convince me to use a solar cooker on a boat. I supervised some undergraduate solar cooker projects a few years ago. They sound good but they lack the control needed to cook most food. In practice, in a hot african bush village, they are very labor intensive and don't perform very well. The thermal transfer is insufficient for most cooking. There was a companion project that extracted the flammable gaseous components from human waste. This low quality wet gas was then used for cooking. It was much more effective than the solar cookers.

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Old 15-01-2015, 08:41   #7
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Re: Pressure cooker vs. Thermal Cooker vs. Wonderbag

The main advantage of the Thermos Cooker over a Pressure Cooker is that most of the cooking can take place off the stove. That means you can start a meal before getting underway and have it cooking while under sail, without the worry of an unattended flame on the stove. Also in the summer or warmer climates it does not put as much heat into the cabin. If you sail with a large crew (more than 3) the Thermos Cooker will keep a meal warm allowing the crew to eat at separate times.

John
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Old 15-01-2015, 13:35   #8
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Re: Pressure cooker vs. Thermal Cooker vs. Wonderbag

I have both my wonderful pressure cooker I bought at the boat show because it saves on fuel by cooking much more quickly because under pressure, the food is cooked on higher heat. The higher heat however, may destroy nutrients.

I yhave used the thermal cooker--a highly insulated vessel that you can put one or two pots into, stacked, to continue cooking for several hours in the well insulated thermal container. There are cheap ones that have lower insulation factor and lesser quality stainless steel pots that slip inside. The better quality ones, (i.e., the one I got from Australia), really work great! What you do is brown the meat, add the veggies, etc. and bring to boil for five minutes on your regular cooktop/stove, and then slip the pot(s) inside the insulated unit. Put it aside and 6 to 8 hours later, open it up and find an incredible slow-cooked meal waiting. I cooked kangaroo tail, lamb, beef, chicken, pork this way while travelling through the bush--we were spoiled by it! the one I have has two stainless steel pots with their own lids, (they have heavy gauge SS bottoms on them as well), that slip down inside the tall heavily insulated outer SS pot with heavily insulated lid. These good units are a couple hundred dollars. The cheap ones that I don't recommend are less than $100. The hot pot slow cooker does not have the high heat of the pressure cooker.
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Old 16-01-2015, 01:23   #9
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Re: Pressure cooker vs. Thermal Cooker vs. Wonderbag

I have a pressure cooker and a Wonderbag. The Wonderbag is a cheaper version of the thermal cooker, think of it as an energy free slow cooker, bring food to the boil on the stove top, tuck it into the Wonderbag and in a few hours you have a hot meal waiting for you. You don't need any special pans, both my smallest and biggest fit well and I can also get two pans in side by side to cook chilli and rice at the same time. If you use pans with glass or vented lids it is wise to add a layer of aluminium foil over the top of the pan, under the lid to retain more heat.

I use the pressure cooker in conjunction with the Wonderbag, bringing the pc up to pressure, turning off the heat and allowing the pressure to drop and then tucking it in the bag as recommended - the best of both worlds.

The Wonderbag can also be used as an extension to your fridge, keeping things cold for many hours.

My husband thought it would be a waste of money but it gets at least once daily use - for cooking dinner, raising bread, making yoghurt, transporting dinner for group meals etc etc
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Old 16-01-2015, 18:23   #10
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Re: Pressure cooker vs. Thermal Cooker vs. Wonderbag

Pressure cooker with a Wonderbag...genius! The best of all worlds...low fuel use, the ability to brown meats in the same pan you cook in and a way to keep it warm for hours. I'll bet that that long cool-down time in the Wonderbag allows for that great mingling of flavors that you usually need a slow-cooker for. Thanks so much!
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Old 16-01-2015, 18:49   #11
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Re: Pressure cooker vs. Thermal Cooker vs. Wonderbag

I have started using a microwave pressure cooker, the Nordic Ware Tender Cooker. So far I'm quite happy with it. I will not use propane, i'm working on the most efficient way to cook using electricity, and this is looking good.
Have a microwave that is also a convection oven with insulation to hold in heat.

Nordic-Ware-Microwave-Tender-Cooker

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Old 18-01-2015, 00:46   #12
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Re: Pressure cooker vs. Thermal Cooker vs. Wonderbag

Last night I used the pressure cooker to make an aubergine curry - brought it up to pressure, allowed it to drop back to room pressure and then tucked it in the Wonderbag with the rice in another pot (simmered for 5 minutes on the hob). An hour later we had perfectly cooked rice and a very tasty aubergine curry, using very little propane.
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Old 18-01-2015, 16:48   #13
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Re: Pressure cooker vs. Thermal Cooker vs. Wonderbag

Wanted to add that this cooker is perfect for making popcorn.
Just put in 1/4 cup of kernels, put on the top, and 4 minutes later enjoy fresh popcorn to eat right out of the cooker. No microwave popcorn bags to buy and turn into trash, no oil needed either.

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I have started using a microwave pressure cooker, the Nordic Ware Tender Cooker.
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Old 18-01-2015, 17:18   #14
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Re: Pressure cooker vs. Thermal Cooker vs. Wonderbag

As far as a wonder bag or thermal cooker neadlemeyer described how to make your own at home for pennies in his book sailing the farm on page 74
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Old 18-01-2015, 23:08   #15
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Re: Pressure cooker vs. Thermal Cooker vs. Wonderbag

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As far as a wonder bag or thermal cooker neadlemeyer described how to make your own at home for pennies in his book sailing the farm on page 74
Sparrowhawk1 has made one from an old styrofoam cooler and blanket. The Wonderbag is essentially just styrofoam balls encased in a nifty bag with drawstrings.

Usually. I use my pressure cooker only as a slow cooker - I bring it to pressure, turn it off and simply leave it anything from 20 minutes (potatoes) to an hour (soups) or a couple of hours (stews, chicken broth). Unless it is an extra cold winter's day, no additional insulation is needed. The only big advantage to the insulation is that come dinner time the food does not have to be reheated.

This is Sparrowhawk's system:

Quote:
Originally Posted by sparrowhawk1 View Post
I put this on other posts and its not a thermos but it works so incredibly well I can't believe its not more popular.

The other day I cooked 1 pound of beans in beef broth with about 2 pounds of cuck roast.pressure cooked for about 35 minutes then put it in the thermal cooker and the next day the pot was too hot to touch. The beans are cooked to perfection and the meat fell apart.

I made the thermal cooker with a styrofoam cooler that I was going to throw away and an old blanket
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